OJAI : Variety of Events to Mark City's History

Community groups, artists and local businesses will transform downtown Ojai into a party scene Saturday for Ojai Day, a celebration of the town's history.

Two blocks of Ojai Avenue, the main thoroughfare into the core of Ojai's business district, will be closed to vehicles from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to make room for participants to explore more than 70 booths set up by townspeople. Community information, art, crafts, food and other wares and services will be offered.

A variety of music and dance events will be held throughout the day in the downtown Arcade area and adjacent Libbey Park.

"Ojai Then and Now" will be the theme of the celebration, which is a revival of an annual event that began in 1917 to celebrate developer Edward Drummond Libbey's donation of the Ojai Post Office tower, parkland and the Ojai Arcade structure to the city, according to event organizer Craig Walker, a Nordhoff High School teacher. The original Ojai Day was abandoned by the community in the late 1920s, Walker said.

An "Ojai Spirit Parade" giving residents a chance to share expressions of Ojai's culture and heritage will make its way east on Ojai Avenue from Canada Street beginning at 9 a.m.

"It will be a push and pull 'em affair, an offbeat parade that people can have fun with," Walker said. "People will have a chance to do simple things to express what they feel about Ojai in a humorous or serious way."

"There was some concern that this would be just another tourist attraction," Walker said. "But we tried to make it an event for local people. Everyone participating is local."

Speakers detailing events in Ojai's history will be presented throughout the day at the Libbey Park bandstand. "Ojai Review," a musical with scenes depicting Ojai history, will be presented at the Ojai Art Center at 12:15 p.m.

Ojai Day events in the Libbey Park Bowl will include a Chumash Indian show at 10 a.m., an Illusions Theatre presentation of Chumash stories at 11:15, Mexican folk dancing at 11:45, jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and his band at 3 p.m., and a presentation of the "William Tell Overture" and "Peter and the Wolf" by the Ventura County Symphony at 6 p.m.

For information, call 646-8389.

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